Dan works at the University of Huddersfield and joined Love to Ride for Cycle September 2017. We’re encouraging all our members to set themselves a cycling goal for this year and Dan replied on Facebook that his is to save £1,000 by riding to work instead of driving. Here's his cycling story:
What was the single most effective method you found to begin riding to work?
Sorry, I didn’t have a method. I tried it, hated it, stuck at it and became a convert!
Did anyone encourage you?
I had the encouragement of my wife and family. Sometimes I am tempted to drive and my wife gently reminds me that I have a bike in the shed! I also had friends that rode and they chatted to me about their love of riding. Their chats shifted my perspective from “it’s a way of getting to work” to “this is something that I could grow to like” and, actually, I have fallen in love with cycling.
What benefits have you experienced from riding to work?
I would count all of the following benefits equally because they all make a valuable contribution to my well-being in their own way. None are more important than the other, but all matter a lot!
Time - I only ride a 4-mile commute to work and then back again in the evening but even in that short distance the ride is around 10 minutes quicker in the morning than driving. Every morning I ride past queues of traffic at several junctions on one of the main routes into the town. It's around 30 minutes quicker than the bus/walking to work.
Money - I estimate that between parking and fuel I would spend £6 a day on driving to work. Every day I ride to work that's £6 to spend on bike gear! Winning! The truth of it though, is that my wife monitors my bike purchases, so it is a literal saving… Last year I rode to work enough to save £750.
Fitness - The increased fitness that comes from riding to work is a real benefit and allied to the other benefits I mentioned. My mental health is better when I am fitter, I don't have to take time away from work and family to go to the gym and don't have to pay for memberships. In addition to the commutes, I also ride for pleasure including non-competitive events and a yearly trip to Europe. In the lighter evenings I take the long way home (20-50 miles) incorporating training with the commute. I see some beautiful places that genuinely make me grateful to be out on the road.
Mental Health - The time on the bike gives me the opportunity to drop the stresses of the day. It's subtle, imperceptible and not consciously worked at but somehow, along the way, anything that has made me tense or anxious softens and often melts away altogether.
How did you calculate your saving from riding your bike instead of driving?
The car park that I would use costs £4/day to use. I added in a guesstimate on fuel (diesel!) plus wear and tear of £2/day. If I was being absolutely honest that cost would actually increase because I eat a bigger lunch when I drive so, on a driving day, I spend more on food.
So, circa 125 days commuting last year x £6/day on fuel and wear and tear = £750
How many days do you have to ride to save £1,000 in 2019 and what’s your plan for achieving this goal?
167 - those 125(ish) days last year were all achieved between May and December. Simply start earlier in the year (I have started already, of course). The winter equipment (bike and clothing) has been the real difference this year.
What advice would you give to someone considering riding to work?
The right equipment. If you're working to a budget, definitely budget for good waterproofs, warm clothing (especially gloves and overshoes) and (it seems obvious) mudguards for the bike. These elements have made the single biggest contribution to increasing my ride commuting this year. Until I got winter kit I would stop riding in early winter. With the right kit, I have felt no need to stop (see pictures of Dan modelling his Proviz gear below!).
And Cycle To Work Schemes! This was the single biggest factor in starting commuting by bike. The value offered by these schemes is outstanding and, for me, has paid for itself very quickly.
We're very grateful to Dan for sharing his story - if you're inspired to start riding to work, join us at lovetoride.net or if you have an inspiring cycling story please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org